I’m not sure where to begin when talking about Paul O’Connell. For Munster and Ireland he’s been involved in and been one of the motivating forces behind several sporting triumphs which have given great joy to both me and my Mum.
If Brian O’Driscoll has the happy knack of making the impossible look easy, and his play had the beauty of artistry, then O’Connell’s play showed the starker beauty of hard work and grit. O’Connell in full flight, monstering the opposition (and his own players) is one of the most glorious sights in sport.
From one of the biggest players on any pitch (to quote friend L, O’Connell can loom sitting down) to a man who was one of the smaller guys in any wrestling ring.
American Dragon, as was, was one of the participants in one of my favourite series of wrestling matches. He and Danny Williams wrestled in FWA, ROH and somewhere else, which I have managed to forget. I caught the FWA match on The Wrestling Channel and I just had to, absolutely had to, see the next one (which was the ROH one). I was even willing to suffer ROH’s camerawork for them. My problem with old school ROH’s camerawork wasn’t anything refined as artistic issues, no, it made me seasick and I do actually mean that, no hyperbole is involved. But that match was worth it.
Sadly I missed most of Daniel Bryan’s WWE run, including Team Hell No and his championship run, but I’m happy he made it.
And, while I’m sad to see him go, I’m glad he’s made the sensible decision to quit given his health.
That’s true in both their cases actually, because they’re both the kind of stubborn who might not, and both rugby and wrestling are littered with people who should have quit for their own good but didn’t.
I think that’s something lots of pro-sports, but particularly wrestling (at this point, I’d like to say how sorry I am to hear about Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney), need to look at – an exit strategy for people too injured to carry on, and too stubborn to realise it.
But to return to my original purpose – let us now raise a virtual glass to Paul O’Connell and Daniel Bryan, for every shout, cheer, curse and delight they’ve given us.